Cuisinart CBK-100 Bread Maker Review by Elsy Haschke
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I’ve always loved a good looking appliance. So, I started off with a prejudice against the Cuisinart CBK-100 bread maker. That feeling is gone. The darn thing works so well I just had to change my mind. Here’s why…
As mentioned, the CBK-100’s looks don’t thrill on first glance. Yet, if you look a little closer you see that it’s not quite so dull as it first appears. It has these interesting raised black rims around a lot of brushed stainless steel. And, the vents and handles give it a stylish retro Flash Gordon appeal. Also, the handles are pretty, well, handy for moving it when the case is hot.
The rectangular canister measures 12.5″ high x 14.5″ wide x 7.5″ deep, just the right size for my countertop, if a little small for making truly big loaves. And, at 22 lbs, it’s neither too heavy to move conveniently nor so light it will get dumped over from a casual bump.
I just mentioned that the size doesn’t allow for making the largest loaves. True statement, but needing qualification. You can use pre-packed mix to create anything from a 1 lb to 2 lb loaf, which is certainly large enough for many families. I like to bake in one session for a whole crowd when friends come to visit, but you may not mind so much using it multiple times in one day. The Rapid Bake option makes that easier.
Beyond the size I really, really like the horizontal orientation of the pan. I’ve used bread makers in which the pan is higher than it is wide. They make good bread. But I much prefer the more common loaf dimensions. Apart from being able to slice in a more ‘natural’ way, it makes more crust. Yum!
Controls and Options
Looks and dimensions aside, there’s no denying that the controls are well-laid out. The LCD panel at the top of the control panel is rimmed by markings that could not be clearer. The font is large and not fancy. Those of us whose vision is not as good as it once was are grateful!
The menu button is a little hard to press, but that’s the case with so many electronic controls these days. If you don’t mind them you’ll do just fine. I prefer solid buttons, myself, but they’re rare on an appliance today.
The menu options themselves are as easy to see as the surrounding indicators. Selecting one of the 3 crust colors or 3 loaf sizes is a breeze.
The Delay Start button is less convenient because it’s a + and – pair, which can take a little longer than desired if you have to increment a few hours. With a total delay of up to 13 hours that can require a lot of pressing or holding. An option to set the delay directly would be nice as is common on some other manufacturer’s models.
12 Pre-Programmed Menu Options
Of far more use to me is the huge selection of pre-programmed menu options. I want to make my own dough (even if it’s just from a convenient store-bought box of flour and yeast) but I have no objection to lots of pre-set baking options! They run the gamut.
There’s Basic/White, of course, along with the usual French/Italian, Whole Wheat, and Pasta Dough. But there’s also a setting for Gluten Free. Hooray! Don’t need it myself but for some of my sensitive friends, that’s great.
There’s also a setting for Jams. Very useful, considering how intelligently Cuisinart has implemented this. The heating element is placed so that you won’t burn the stuff, a problem with some models. Ditto the Cake/Quick Bread setting.
Best of all, for my taste, is the Sweet Bread setting. I have a real sweet tooth and baking this style of bread can be tricky. When you have dough with high amounts of sugar the loaf can get too dark too quickly. The CBK-100 deals well with that potential problem.
There’s also an option for Bake-Only, used to bake store-bought pre-made doughs. Doubt I would use this for anything but an experiment, but I can see that many might use it often. Nice that this bread maker is flexible in this way.
When everything is done the unit beeps 15 times. That can be annoying but for busy bakers it can be a real blessing.
A feature I definitely do use is this model’s automatic warming (for up to 60 minutes) when the bake cycle is complete. I have lots of things to do before serving. Great way to keep everything hot until I’m ready. After all, one of the most wonderful things about homemade bread is that warmth and the accompanying delicious aroma.
Like so many manufacturers today, Cuisinart is trying to cut costs wherever they can. I don’t blame them, especially since in this case they didn’t do it in the bread maker itself judging by the high quality of this unit.
The result here is a pretty chincy set of accessories. There’s a measuring spoon and a measuring cup that are nothing to write home about. But they’re adequate and few models come with anything much better.
The recipe book on the other hand is ample and well done. Granted, you can find a thousand bread recipes today on the Internet in a few seconds.
Still, to me it’s worthwhile getting some from the actual makers of the device. They have departments that do nothing but use the products before they’re even released to test them out. No doubt they’ve tried some of these recipes during the process some of which I’ve made myself. They know these work with this machine.
I’ve had bad luck with Cuisinart products from time to time. I’m glad to see that the Cuisinart CBK-100 bread maker is an exception. I’m not delighted with its appearance (a matter of personal taste, to be sure) but I am with its function. It’s reliable, easy to use, and makes very fine bread. That’s what counts, after all.
So, I’m happy the CBK-100 conquered my initial prejudice.